Hillsborough officers just knew they needed to help.

When employees at the Hillsborough Food Lion grocery store saw a woman stealing, they shared her license plate number with the police. When officers showed up to Theresa West’s home, they uncovered a heartbreaking story.

Why a Desperate Mom Turned To Stealing Groceries

bag filled with food and fruit
Unsplash/ Maria Lin Kim

West was having a hard time making ends meet for her and her three children and they had gone without food for three days.

“We called the churches and everything and everyone was like, ‘We go through Interfaith Council, we go through this and go through that’ and nobody would give us anything. We had nothing,” West told WRAL News through tears.

With nowhere else to turn, West visited the grocery store and took what she couldn’t afford. She admitted to sealing about $36 worth of food.

“I had to go out and steal food, and that’s desperate, and I’m sorry for doing what I did but my kids were hungry,” she said.

Hillsborough Police Department Senior Corporal Keith Bradshaw and his partner looked around and quickly realized she was telling the truth.

“I opened the refrigerator, and it was completely bare. I think there was one little pack of cheese in it,” Bradshaw said.

While Bradshaw’s partner took West into custody, the pair decided they also needed to help her.

How the Officers That Went to Arrest Her Helped Her Feed Her Family

“So, we said, ‘How can we help that and in the same sense help her so that she doesn’t have to feel that she has to go do those things?’” Bradshaw said.

When West made bail, the officers went to the grocery store and spent $140 of their own money on groceries for West and her kids and returned to her home with two car loads of food.

Bradshaw said his good deed is just part of the job, but to West it meant so much more.

“My favorite verse is Matthew 23:24, ‘Whenever I was hungry, you fed me,’” she said. “I’m struggling so hard to make it and just to have somebody to come help me is just been a miracle.”

The Hillsborough Police Department said it will continue to help West find the support she needs from local non-profits.

The incident was posted on the department’s Facebook page and garnered a lot of positive comments.

“Thank you for your love and compassion for your fellow man. The lives of this family will be changed forever,” one commenter wrote. “May God grant you many blessing and protection while you both are out there protecting the streets.”

Another one wrote: “God bless you…what you give you receive back…and also after so much bad news about the American police officers it’s really nice to see that not all are so brutal…well done.”

Many commenters asked for a fund to be set up for the family so they could donate and the police department asked them to donate food and funds to their local food back or social services to ensure maximum gain is achieved.

The officers remind us to look deeper and see why someone is doing what they’re doing. And maybe you can even be of assistance.


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